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14 March 2016

Pricing and competition the biggest challenges facing law firms in EMEA and APAC

Research undertaken by LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions shows that 57 per cent of law firms are optimistic about growth in 2016, but pricing (for 52 per cent) and competition (for 46 per cent) pose the two biggest challenges to achieving this goal.

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The research report, entitled ‘Law Firms in Transition: Marketing, Business Development and the Quest for Growth’, is based on the findings of a new survey of over 100 marketing and business development professionals in law firms across the UK, mainland Europe, South America, Africa, Asia and Australasia.

The key findings are:

·       Sixty-two per cent of respondents claim to be proactively targeting international growth. Clearly, the effects of the last global economic downturn in the legal industry are beginning to dissipate, with many law firms also seeking international success.

·       With high expectations of success alongside the pricing and competitive challenges, 88 per cent of respondents are shifting their marketing and business development strategies and activities in order to win new business.

·       Professionals (94 per cent) recognise marketing and business development as different functions that require different skill sets, while 69 per cent of respondents believe that their firm should create a separate role (from marketing) for head of business development.

However, presently the structures of these functions vary greatly in law firms:

o    In 44 per cent of firms, the marketing function reports to business development.

o   The marketing and business development functions are separate departments in 37 per cent of firms.

o    There’s no business development functions in 7 per cent of firms.

o    There is a head of business development or similar appointed in 84 per cent of firms, but in 66 per cent the head of marketing and head of business development are the same person.

·       Measuring ROI from business growth-related activities continues to challenge professionals, mainly due to a lack of data. Sixty-four per cent of respondents report that they are unsure, disagree or strongly disagree that their firm has quantifiable data to measure ROI on marketing and business development initiatives.

Consequently, the metrics that professionals track most frequently are:

o    Win/loss ratio (82 per cent)

o    Goals by practice area or group (64 per cent)

o    Individual lawyer goals (44 per cent)

o   Effect of nurturing across the opportunity lifecycle (24 per cent)

·       Professionals are craving tangible involvement of their firms in their business functions. When asked the single most valuable thing a respondent's firm could do for marketing or business development, common answers included: increase in budget, more investment in people, changing the mind set of lawyers towards business development, embracing new ways of undertaking activities and investing in existing/new CRM systems.

·       Professionals believe that technology can help them to achieve their growth targets in 2016. Technology tools such as customer relationship management or marketing automation is the top area in which they plan to increase or significantly increase investment, followed by client/prospect analytics and thought leadership. 

‘Professionals recognise that in the current global environment, a broad brush approach to marketing is unlikely to deliver the international growth results they are striving for,’ commented Guy Phillips, Sales Director at LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions. ‘So they are using CRM systems to tailor and deliver local marketing initiatives to support their firm’s strategic objectives. However, legal marketers can use the very same CRM systems to leverage relationship insight for competitive advantage too. Perhaps the most mature adoption of the technology is when it is used to positively shift the cultural mind set of the organisation and motivate lawyers to willingly buy in to business development. CRM systems are sophisticated enough to facilitate such transformation. As professionals make the business case for increased investment in technology to their firms, they must first strategically determine what they want to do with the system and what problems they want to solve. Only then will they be able to derive tangible ROI from their functional efforts.’

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